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Abia CSOs advocate for uniformity, efficient & progressive tax, not retrogressive tax


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Foundation for Environmental Rights Advocacy and Development (FENRAD), a foremost civil society organization in Abia State focusing on human and economic rights and social justice, also team lead, Abia State Tax Justice & Governance Platform, a civil society advocating for fair taxation, has followed for some weeks now issues bordering on taxation, market unions and sundry other developing trends in Abia State under the watch of Governor Alex Chioma Otti.

While it is certain that taxes must be paid for independent revenue generation and to enable government provide or meet the basic needs of the people, the Foundation believes that a detailed and efficient tax system is what best serves the interest of the government and the governed. It is in our view that tax is an inevitable civic duty, and that Benjamin Franklin, foremost American statesman, was right in saying, ‘Death and taxes are the only certainties in life.’ But a pro-poor and progressive tax, is, in the Foundation’s belief, the best for Abia state.

The Abia state Government does not need to be reminded that the poor voted them into office. The poor, as FENRAD understands here, include the tricycle operators, commercial motorists, petty traders, teachers, civil servants, artisans, the youth, women and other groups, even vulnerable communities like persons with disabilities (PWDs).

A tax system that increases upwards the amount payable as taxes by the poor at a time like this, is not only capable of making businesses to go under, but one that goes contrary to what we feel should be the present Government economic philosophy. There are reports, some of them unconfirmed though, making the rounds that marketers and commercial motorists, both bus and keke operators, are to pay an outrageous rate higher than what they paid hitherto. Then, there are also allegations of multiple taxation, even as protests had happened in some markets concerning this, amid the overbearing tendencies of certain market leaders.

We hereby note that the times are hard as household finances continue to shrink in the face of worsening food inflation/insecurity. The current subsidy-free regime is already biting hard and our people are falling on hard times, making difficult choices to live daily. Already, labour mobility, which the transport sector makes feasible, is under serious threat as daily waged workers and traders no longer could mobilize for work and business. Currently, mobilizing the productive forces of the state under this circumstance is becoming increasingly hard, likely to lead to production decline, our investigation shows. So, we hope that the Government sticks with tax regime the people, majority of whose consumption capacity is declining, can afford, or better relate to.

FENRAD has read and reviewed certain media reportage about how tricycle and bus operators lamented the new exorbitant rates. From previous ₦180 as daily payable rate, for example, Aba tricycle operators are expected to pay ₦300, marking over 50% increase at a time when fuel price is hitting the rooftop. A similar report is trending about Ariaria marketers, on how ₦21,000 is being levied as annual tax. The Foundation believes that while driving revenue is key, citizens should not suffer hardship for whatever reason nor should government launch policies that make business environment hostile to the informal sector, as such can truncate the ease of doing business in Abia State. We hope the Governor looks into these concerns in the interest of the poor who voted his government into office, and who still believe in that government.

Lastly, we urge the government to, in the interest of the masses, ensure a zero-multiple tax regime, harmonize all payable taxes so that the rich and the poor, the haves and have nots, all Ndị Abia can leverage the business ecosystem to maximize their God-given potentials.

This is one request that must not be overlooked.


Comrade Nelson Nnanna Nwafor

Executive Director

Foundation for Environmental Rights, Advocacy & Development (FENRAD Nigeria

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